The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) has announced the names of the four Kansans chosen for the second annual honor roll of Kansas' Finest. Nominated by tourism industry professionals around the state, Kansas' Finest honorees are the "faces of Kansas tourism" – advocates who unabashedly promote the state's charms and have a deep, lasting love for the Sunflower State. The honorees were chosen by a selection panel of KANSAS! magazine writers, photographers, editors, and Division of Tourism staff members.
"The purpose of the Kansas' Finest honor roll is to celebrate the state's most valued tourism ambassadors," said Becky Blake, Director of Tourism. "Kansas' Finest are committed to making the most of the visitor experience in Kansas. They believe in our beautiful Midwestern landscape and are invested in sharing its wonder."
The four honorees are:
Steve Hund, Paxico, owner of Mill Creek Antiques. Noted for his beautiful restorations of antique stoves, Hund is also widely recognized for spearheading Paxico's renaissance into a mecca for antique hunters and others looking slow down and enjoy time in a small community. Hund says his ambition in life has always been, "to restore something, pass it on, and then look for another project."
Terry Tietjens, Abilene, owner of Seelye Mansion. Tietjens has been involved in many ventures to boost Abilene tourism, including creating the Kirby House Restaurant and helping establish the Great Plains Theatre Festival, which performs at the Tietjens Center for the Performing Arts. "I plan to spend every dollar I have doing something for my community," says Tietjens, "because it comes back to me many times."
Brent Harris, Dodge City, marshal of the Boot Hill Museum. Harris began working for the museum 15 years ago when his career in health care marketing ended. Harris' life would take a traumatic turn years later when a flash fire at a bull fry festival burned his face, arms and chest. The community rallied to his support and proclaimed him the "Face of Dodge City." His rugged cowboy face now helps promote Dodge City across the county and around the world. As Harris points out, "the cowboy heritage is part of America's DNA. Dodge City and Kansas are treasures to the world."
Marilyn Helmer, Lincoln, owner of Village Lines. Wheat weavings, limestone art, books, and fresh-baked goods are featured prominently at Helmer's Village Lines store in Lincoln. She annually conducts a tour of Lincoln County, telling settler's stories and highlighting points of interest. Helmer laughs when she remarks, "I've had such a rich life, but I haven't made a dime."
All four honorees will be featured in the upcoming Winter 2012 edition of KANSAS! magazine.
KANSAS! Magazine is published quarterly in February, May, August and November as the Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter issues. It is also available in bookstores, grocery stores and museum gift shops across Kansas. Subscribe to KANSAS! online at KansasMag.com or call 800-678-6424.